Shithouse rat

I'm a bipolar writer in the Naked City. I'm not playing with a full deck. I don't have all my dots on the dice. My cheese is sliding off my cracker. I don't have both oars in the water. I'm a bubble off plum. In other words, I'm crazier than a shithouse rat. These are my stories. Comments--short or long, nasty or nice--always welcome!

Monday, November 21, 2005

Flamers and scammers and trolls...oh my!

Yesterday, while catching up with my blogpals, I read a post by Jessie at What About? entitled "I Am Offended!"The previous day, Jessie had posted a pic of actor Orlando Bloom in a romantic bedroom moment with an equally sexy actress. A reader took offense and sent her a scathing e-mail--something to the effect that she was a sinning hussy because she was married but dared to find a juicy hunk of eye-candy attractive--though she had no intention of being unfaithful.

She was very upset about this, and of course I and other loyal commenters reassured her that the guy was an asshole. So far, so good--no more nastiness from the jerk-off today.

As luck would have it, earlier that day I'd checked out a few sites that dealt with internet flamers and trolls. Awhile back, I myself had a very lively Shithouse flamefest that I must admit I actually enjoyed. In essence, I was provoked; I responded in kind; and the whole thing developed into a full fledged, four alarm cyber-fire. However, In retrospect I must admit that I was not completely blameless, and had perhaps even provoked the whole thing myself in a way. But I vowed when I started this site that I would not delete nasty comments, but instead would try to have fun with them.

I mentioned in a recent post that a number of bloggers have quit their sites lately. In at least one instance, a very popular blogger decided to give it up because of some commenters who were baiting her. Thing is, the vast majority of her readers loved her, so it puzzled me that she would let a few trolls chase her off. But online assholes can be so disturbing that some people would just rather not deal with them, period. I'd once been badly flamed on a bipolar support group site, and it was not pretty, so I know how disturbing it can be to get cyber-burned.

Another interesting aspect of all this is the varying definitions of what a troll is. Over at The Conservative's Conservative, blogger Eddie's views are quite provacative, and it seems only natural that he might get a dissenting comment or two from those with a more liberal bent. Though I don't read him often, I get the impression that he is not very adept at handling any opposing viewpoints. Moreover, his regulars are as intolerant and scathing as he is, if not more so. When a few people wrote in disagreeing with him--and not in a nasty way--they were accused of being trolls. One or two commenters said: Why would you read or comment on a blog you don't agree with?

I daresay some liberal blogs are guilty of the same. But there is a difference between ad hominem attacks and spirited discussion, is there not? Well, you know what they say--never discuss politics or religion...

(By the way, I just took another glance at Eddie's blog, and up top it says "Deep thoughts of a proud right winger- Not a debate forum, please don't waste your time." I don't know if it always said this; I suspect it was added at some later point. Well, at least he's made his position clear, and it IS his blog).

One reason flamers and trolls proliferate on the web is because of its virtual and often anonymous nature. People are emboldened to say things to strangers that they would never dare to say to someone face to face. One might say that a darker side of their personality comes out--perhaps a side that no one offline even knows about.

Which brings to mind a potentially dangerous species of internet nuisance-- bloggers who lie and deceive under cover of the web. Walker posted a very sobering and downright scary story awhile back about a friend of his who met up with a guy online who wound up brutally raping her. I'm sure I need not recount all the examples of perverts trolling for underage kids, but perhaps Walker might provide a link to the post that dealt with this issue. Walker cautions--and I agree--that one should think long and hard before posting photos of yourself, your kids, when you're going on vacation, and other intimate details on your website. There are just too many stalkers and wackos who might very well show up on your doorstep one fine day.

Here's a slightly less sinister example. Although I and many others ususally take what bloggers say about themselves at face value and readily sympathize with their situations and problems, once in awhile I remind myself that people can concoct tales that may not be true or are very one-sided. (Of course, most bloggers will be biased to some degree, since there are always two sides to every story, blah blah blah). Without getting into detail lest I be labeled a heartless, cynical bitch, the most cogent recent example is a young female blogger that a fellow blogpal steered me to.

Based on her latest post, she seemed ultra depressed--perhaps suicidal--and being mentally ill myself, I (and others) tried to leave supportive comments. But after reading through her archives, something seemed very hinky to me. She complained about her depression and hopelessness, but was ultra resistant to taking meds. She claimed to be bored, yet the drama in her life (including a brand new hubby and kids from a prior relationship) seemed to me enough to stave off ennui, if not despair. For someone in such desperate straits, she seemed inordinately concerned about her blog design and popularity. Further posts fueled my suspicion that she was basically looking for attention and diversion, and neither posessed nor desired insight into how to take some responsibility for her own problems. Not to say she isn't ill, but I think her readers were probably, at least to some extent, duped.

In any case, my trolling for trolls finally led me to a great link:a brillant website by Mike Reed called Flame Warriors which offers a hilariously astute illustrated gallery of all the myriad "species" of flamers out there. It's well, well worth a look.

Lest you think I'm exempting myself here, I'm sure that by the time I finish looking through all the categories, I'll find lots of bits of myself in at least a few of the subspecies. The author of the site himself admits as much.

So what do you guys think about online assholes? Have you ever been guilty of provoking a blog fight, intentionally or not? Posted comments you're not proud of? Ever find yourself sucked into an online argument to the point of blind outrage and incivility? How do you react when you get a negative comment on your blog--do you delete it, ignore it, or counterattack? In other words, what sets you off and what do you do about it?

And last but not least: have you ever thought of just throwing in the towel and quitting your blog because of some cyber-jerks? I'd just love to know!

Technorati tags: flaming, trolls, blog fights, flamers, Mike Reed, Flame Warriors, blog scams.

34 Comments:

At 7:55 PM, Blogger Walker said...

Come one come all and welcome to the Internet circus.
We will enlighten you, entertain you, we will take your money with every stupid gadget that we can invent that doesn't work.
We will lengthen you cock and bust your bra.
You dream it and we will provide the solution, and the nightmare that goes with it.
I love the net but respect it like I would a rattlesnake in my bed.
It knows more about you than you do yourself.
Google yourself, your real self and you may be surprized.
I was.
Even though we make friends here we don't really know each other do we.
I have been in 3 good drag out battles on my blog and 2 big ones on another blog (being respectful to the host of the blog of course)the jackass.
I accept all forms of comments on my blog and would never delete a comment from a blooger.NOW annonymous comments from asshole get deleted. No balls to blog, you dont get to comment.
But I do love a good street fight on my blog, especially if it involves and opinionated butthead with no understanding or respect of anything but their own views.
"sigh" it's been awhile.

As for the lady who sent the email........I know nuns who get wet thinking about a sexy hunk and for myself if my woman doesn't find other men attractive then I would be worried she'd lost interest in men.
I look at a sexy woman and if she has big tits I take a GOOD LOOK.
It's our nature.

My motto is,
Write what I feel
Post what I want
Say what you may
In the end these are our blogs for us to be ourselves not for us to be who you want us to be.
THanks for linking me Elvira and I think the Link is in my sidebar that you mentioned for anyone to read.(Harsh Lessons)
It is a post that I wish never needed writing but that's not the case.

 
At 10:02 PM, Blogger E-E said...

Wow. Flamers. Scammers. Spammers.
Trolls. What about ex boyfriends that DON'T leave comments but just hang out and read you and stalk your blog?
Ahh, Elvira, I know you know the whole story about me, but others don't.
Walker is right... the internet is a scary thing. I suppose if we don't want anyone to truly "know" us, we should respectfully also accept the fact that this IS the internet. And, shit happens.
Jees, one of my blog buddies just got 'outted'by a former coworker/colleague. Can you imagine?
But yes, I have deleted commenters, shamefully. They were deleted because I did not want my EX to track them down and find me thru thier blogs. A hopeless battle.

And blog battles?
No. 1, I don't have time for them.
No. 2... well, I don't have time for them.
I'd rather spend my time reading great prose, seeking blog buddies that I can relate to, and/or read stimulating blog discussions like yours.
:)

 
At 10:47 PM, Blogger Justine said...

Yep, I'm guilty. By the way, I thought that "Young female depressed blogger" you were talking about was ME for a minute there!
OK, a while ago, like a few months, I went through this "there needs to be more communication between Christians and Muslims" phase. Oh - I know - its fucking obvious that this is stupid and will get you in trouble. But with my Pollyanna spectacles on, I just didn't worry about that.
I was the ONLY commentator on a Marxist-Muslim blogger's site. I kinda felt sorry for him, since he was so unpopular (you know how emotionally messed up men are such chick-magnets).
In an extremely ill advised moment, a blend of frustration, hope and missionary zeal, I told him about this dream I'd had about a friend who'd killed themself. I don;t know what made me think he'd care - or for that matter why I didn't put it on my own blog. I guess I didn't want people feeling sorry for me.
Anyway, he basically lost patience and thought I was retarded.

So, I thought I'd leant my lesson. Then on my blog I posted a quiz I'd taken with political and religious questions (Gee, I love these catchy topics don't I?) and I scared off a few people and got kind of flamed on my own blog, some really angry all-Christians - are - fuckwits type comments. I didn't even say I WAS, you know? It was just the quiz result. As if I'm a fundamentalist, I'm a fucking drug casualty for crying out loud! Of course I get irrational religious beliefs! Then I flamed back, and now Larry Bonewend doesn't want to be in my playgroup anymore. But I'm addicted to perving on his Jello Biafra photo!

Scarey story about Walker's friend. Very sorry to hear it.

 
At 12:28 AM, Blogger digibrill said...

Yeah, I have posted on a few sites I wish I didn't, mostly anti-religious ones that were so bad that I was incensed. Bad decision. Only one day did they come to my site and flame me. Overall, I learn from my mistakes. I think you do a pretty good job on here, so I don't know what you're talking about 8@)

 
At 9:26 AM, Blogger jessie said...

i have had many times someone piss in my cheerioes for something i said. i usually have the most problem with instant messenger though. my kids go to school and when they are in computer, library or study hall they create screen names and im me from school so i started answering im's from screen names i don't know. well here lately i have been getting strange and some sick im's from people. they have no profile posted or anything about themselves to see even who they are, it's unnerving. also someone has figured out my password because the other day it was showing as logged on on one of the kids and my hubby's buddy list and when i logged on yesterday it told me i was logged in at another location. time to change my password, again!
don't hold your breath about the psycho! posting coming later today!
also added some fun stuff on my blog and got my guest map to work finally! whew!

 
At 2:02 AM, Blogger jane said...

I remember the Flamefest on your blog & yes, you did enjoy it. But why not? You were damned good at it! (Plus, you WON)
I once posted on a comment that this couple that was posting daily photos of their adorable tikes, should give that a second thought. Not more than a day later, I was barraged with religious comments from their friends. I was honestly trying to help them, but obviously it was misconstrued.
You're right on about people hiding behind the web. Especially those who read someone's information for eons (or ions?) and then post anonymously, hitting below the belt.
Well, I for one, just read blogs I enjoy. We can't control what life deals us, but we cancontrol what blogs we read. (That sounded smarter inside my head)

 
At 6:17 AM, Blogger The Blind-Winger Jones said...

There be trolls lurking everywhere :-)

I hate it when a flame war kicks off , I've so far managed to avoid one happening on my blog. They never lead anyway, and nobody really learns anything.

 
At 6:20 AM, Blogger The Blind-Winger Jones said...

once again my fingers don't do what my brain is telling them... that should of course have read "they never lead anywhere" !!

Martyn

 
At 9:29 AM, Blogger Swifty said...

If you've ebabled commenting, you've effectively set up an 'open house'. Most people who enter will show respect, but there are always going to be a few slightly off-kilter folk prepared to trash the place. On blogs, they usually do this in the name of "God" or "decency", but occasionally I suspect it's because something you've said has poked a hole in their comfortable jerry-built crutch of a world view. We all love to be right don't we! But getting to the point, if you've enabled commenting then, as you say, I feel the only way to proceed in the face of flaming is to have fun with it, or, if that's too tiresome ignore it. Complaining about it only demonstrates how idealistic and unrealistic your view of the world is.

If debate is frowned upon, why enable comments? I can only think of one reason - it's to amass a series of non-dissenting, back-slapping, cosy supportive comments. Woo hoooooooo, I get to use my current phrase of the moment - fucking sycophantic acolytes! Good eh?

There's no doubt that anonymity, or virtual anonymity breeds bad behaviour. Never mind the more serious and sinsister aspects. As a keen ecorrespondent, and I'm talking in particular of IM, I'm not impressed with 90% of contacts' behaviour. For many, who ostensibly call themselves your "efriend", it's okay to disappear for long periods, or, as is the predominant case, to hold multiple convesations, which again, effectively makes them disappear for long periods. Of course, it may be the case that I'm a totally boring fucker, but I would prefer they said so and didn't waste my time.

On a more serious note, there's been an enormous increase in the downloading of child-pornography over the past couple of years. Does this mean there's been a dramatic increase in the number of paedophiles? I doubt it. The increase has been in Internet usage. The dumb fuckers think they've got total anonymity and so off they go, blindly contributing to the demand.

Regarding flamers, I hardly ever get them. But that's probably because I'm always right and I'm such a nice chap to boot!

Sorry Elvira for using up so much of your comment space, but the mood overcame me. I'm sure you understand.

Excellent Post(Sychphantic acolyte?). Sorry I haven't been around for awhile but that's due to me being a miserable and cantankerous arsehole. Nothing personal.

 
At 1:05 PM, Blogger BiPolar Guy said...

Yeah, I've seen people take abuse in BiPolar forums too. It can be intimidating. At the end of the day you just gotta convince yourself that posts can't bite - BECAUSE THEY CAN'T!!

 
At 2:25 PM, Blogger elvira black said...

Walker:

So well put as usual--this says it all! I can see your point about deleting anonymous comments--some people enable their comment feature so it doesn't allow them at all. It really does say something about a person who doesn't have the balls to post their names (even though our names are usually just our blog names). Just shows they can dish but can't take it. That's just playing dirty in my book.

It is very liberating to write what I feel, though sometimes I have to stifle myself--otherwise I do get in trouble or regret my big mouth--but sometimes it's cathartic to respond to assholes on other blogs--or on mine for that matter.

I hope everyone reads your awesome post on cyber-stalkers. C'mon everyone--take a walk on the Walker side!

 
At 2:32 PM, Blogger elvira black said...

E-E:

Yeah, your ex lurking/stalking your blog is kinda creepy. Lurkers puzzle me in general. And there are indeed a number of people who have lost their jobs thru blogging.

As for deleting comments--hey, everyone's blog is their own territory, and only they can decide how to handle comments. Blog fights can be a time waster--there's really no way to "win." And many times other readers can't really follow what's going on, so it diverts you from your main purpose, as you say.

I enjoy reading about your adventures! Hope you can stay incognito with your ex, though I suspect it may be tough unless you change a certain element of your URL, if you know what I mean.

 
At 2:42 PM, Blogger elvira black said...

Justine:

A Marxist Muslim? Wow, it really does take all kinds. Sounds like quite a sexy catch (lol)! Actually the first comment I ever received was from an anti-AA zealot who was seriously disturbed.

I realize now that my biggest blogfight ultimately resulted from a "helpful" comment I left on someone else's blog. After the smoke had cleared, I have to admit I felt like a bit of an asshole. I also suspect that the main troll was deliberately acting like a fool for a goof--that's part of the trolling MO.

So now, there's a number of blogs I can't really comment to. Some of them are interesting and well-written, but unless I wanted to post anonymously--well, I don't think so. I'm not into the anon thing. Live and learn, I guess.

 
At 2:47 PM, Blogger elvira black said...

Digi:

Religion and politics will almost always set people off, even if you try to have a reasonable discussion. People are just too emotionally invested in their own view.

I think I left a link to my big flamefest post under the Three about Me thing--but it's kind of R-rated, at least. Yeah, i get my back up sometimes too, but I try to counter with humor if at all possible.

 
At 2:56 PM, Blogger elvira black said...

Jessie:

That's creepy about the IM. I've only used it a few times and have to say I didn't like it. After I quit a bipolar e-group some nutjob left a threatening IM which was very disturbing.

Anyway, thanks for the inspiration--lol--and I'll check out the latest on your blog!

 
At 3:01 PM, Blogger elvira black said...

Jane:

Thanks! I guess I sorta "won" on my own blog, but there were some nasty comments on other's blogs about me. Then, as I said, there's now a group of bloggers I can't post comments to anymore.

Yep, trying to be helpful can sure backfire sometimes--I've learned that much after doing so a number of times. But I agree with your philosophy about just enjoying it all--there's no way to control what others believe, no matter how wacky.

 
At 3:03 PM, Blogger elvira black said...

Martyn:

How's about "they never lead anywhere anyway?"(lol). Fortunately, bloggers have the option of deleting comments they don't like, and as they say, "don't feed the trolls." If you ignore them, eventually they go elsewhere for their kicks.

 
At 3:13 PM, Blogger elvira black said...

Don:

It's good to hear from you again. I like the "open house" analogy. As far as blogs that don't tolerate opposing points of view--well, the conservative site I mentioned is very provocative, but the guy has quite a few raving (lol) fans. I think it is possible to have a reasoned discussion, but it's not easy and everyone has to agree to behave like adults. Quite a tall order.

As I said, IM annoys me and gives me the creeps, so I avoid it. As for child porn, the thing is it's really hard to track down the people who put up these sites in the first place. Seems like creeps will always abuse any new technology for their own nefarious ends.

Thanks for your comment--glad you weren't pissed off at me or something (lol).

 
At 3:16 PM, Blogger elvira black said...

Bipolar guy:

My experience with a bipolar forum was very ugly. It would be easy to say: well, they're just in a manic state, but these were just immature assholes who developed a nasty clique, and the moderator seemed to side with them to a certain degree, or so I thought. No more of that forum for me!

 
At 4:32 PM, Blogger Swifty said...

Elvira,

Pissed of with you? Haha! It's unlikely. You're a top blogger. You always provide food for thought whether I agree with you or not. Keep on blogging!

 
At 7:45 PM, Blogger Justine said...

"poked a hole in their comfortable jerry-built crutch of a world view" - right on, Don.

 
At 9:16 AM, Blogger surly girl said...

sorry i'm late.....

i've been lucky and never been flamed on my blog - on other people's comments it's happened a couple of times. both times the flamers had their own blogs so we took it to email and resolved our issues. i know this won't always work but it did the trick at the time.

i would never delete a comment (altho i did delete one of mr swift's once but not cos it was contentious!) based on the opinions in it. it's freedom of expression. i did a long, rambling post about it a while back and concluded that if you don't like it, don't blog. or atl east don't publicise it and then take umbrage when everyone else in the world doesn't agree with you.

that's me, i'm done.

 
At 10:18 AM, Blogger Webmiztris said...

I've gotten some pretty rude, cruel and sick fucks' comments on my blog, but I don't think I'd ever quit my blog on account of any of them. although I do try to stay at least semi-anonymous because I don't trust people. My husband even worries about my stalkers - online AND off.

 
At 1:17 PM, Blogger artdetective said...

Wow, this is enlightening. I never realized how little I knew about blogging...

As for Orlando Bloom -- some people really don't have enough to do with their time, if they're getting upset about something so trivial and harmless. My mom is 65 and has been married for 33 years. She goes to see all Johnny Depp's movies. If she knew how to download pictures of him, I'm sure they'd be up on her wall.

 
At 2:44 PM, Blogger elvira black said...

Don:

Now cut that out! I know the deal--first you flatter me shamelessly, tell me I'm good, then you don't write, you don't call...lol. But thanks.

 
At 2:46 PM, Blogger elvira black said...

Justine:

He is good, isn't he?

 
At 2:48 PM, Blogger elvira black said...

Surly Girl:

I don't think flamers would dare mess with you. And that post you mention probably cinched the deal--they knew you wouldn't be fazed, so what fun would THAT be?

 
At 2:51 PM, Blogger elvira black said...

Webmiztris:

The thing is, I'll bet the online and offline creeps are mutually exclusive, so you've got two non-intersecting subsets of wackos to contend with. If Blogger would allow, I'd do a little diagram with the two circles and all. Anyway, glad the hubby is looking out for you!

 
At 2:54 PM, Blogger elvira black said...

artdetective:

Unbelieveable, isn't it? Sneaky sacrimonious creeps trying to control other people's morality...imagine if one of those maniacs got elected to an important governmental post? Uh oh, come to think of it...

 
At 2:56 PM, Blogger elvira black said...

Elvira,

Um, that's sanctimonius, you dodo.

Hey, I think I just flamed myself!

 
At 11:53 PM, Blogger Neil said...

One thing I need to remind myself every once in a while is that my blog is MY blog, and if I don't like the direction the comments are going, it's up to me to change the direction back to the what I want it to be. And there's nothing wrong with deleting someone if they are causing problems. I've done it once or twice, then emailed them to tell them why.

Of course, a Flamefest can be fun and make your blog more interesting. The trouble is when you let it get out of the hand and certain readers start fighting during every single post about the same issue.

 
At 7:08 AM, Blogger elvira black said...

Neil:

I hear you there. Particularly since your blog gets so many comments, I can just imagine what would happen if someone threw a monkeywrench into the proceedings. Things could get bloody! And you even e-mail the few you've had to delete--you're such a mench!**

**Mench is good, but Neil knows that.

 
At 7:13 AM, Blogger elvira black said...

Oy vey, that's mensch. Elvira, what happened to that Yiddishe kopf of yours? (I probably misspelled that one too).

 
At 1:03 PM, Blogger Webmiztris said...

ps...anyone offended by a picture of Orlando Bloom needs counseling STAT. ;)

 

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